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Lesson 6 from: Introduction to Large Format Photography

Daniel Gregory

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Lesson Info

6. Metering

Next Lesson: Tripods

Lesson Info


Now the next thing I want to talk about is meters, 'cause you're gonna have a couple of different metering options for working with that. So Gena's going to bring over several different kinds of meters you can actually use. One of the keys with the meters is ... And then the little Luma The little tiny one? The little tiny one, yup. Because these cameras don't have any meter inside the lens, you have to use an external meter. There is no getting around that. There's is no trying to cheat, be like, "Oh, can I do something else? Can I secretly hide a meter in there? Can I buy a shutter that has a meter?" For large format cameras, they don't exist. So you're gonna need some type of external meter. Your current digital camera could be your external meter. There's a lot of reasons why you could use that to test your exposure, you could get things figured out. So you could literally get your camera set up, stand in front of your camera, take a picture with your digital camera, and be lik...

e, "Okay, this is my exposure." So that would give you a base setting. But most people who are using large format cameras are gonna have some form of external meter. You could use your iPhone, or your Android phone. Take a picture, there's lots of apps that will actually let you see the exposure. We're gonna talk about that in a second with a particular app that I want to talk about in a second. But you could use your camera. But most people ultimately end up with some sort of actually real hand-held meter. This one is an incident meter. So what happens with this meter is with this dome coming up, I can point this at my subject, and the light that's then falling, tells me my exposure. So for where I'm currently standing, at a 60th of a second, F8 at ISO 200. That would be the exposure I would need for this. And we're gonna look at this when we do the studio shoot here in a little bit. We'll be using this meter. This meter's great for light that is falling that I can walk up to. So if I wanted to meter over here I can come over, and I'm at 6.5 for my f-stop. It's great if I can walk up to it. This is a reflective light meter. So what this meter does, is it allows me to point, and it has a one degree spot in it, so I'm able to take my meter, I can point, and then it tells me an EV rating of 5, which then I can then dial in that EV rating and get my exposure. So this is great because of I'm outdoors and doing my landscape photography, and the object I'm shooting is off in the distance, from where I'm standing I can point and pretty much hit anything off in the distance and figure out what I need to do. If you think about being in Yellowstone, and you're going to take a picture of some buffalo that are 500 yards away, you're not gonna walk out with this, well, some of you might, you shouldn't, but some of you will walk out and you'll stick this right next to the buffalo, and you'll be like, "Great, I got my exposure." And then you'll walk back 500 yards, and you'll take your picture. The rest of us will go, mm, and get the exact same result. So, there are meters that have both built in. Just the way my career evolved, I ended up with one for the studio and one for all my other shooting. The most important part that people don't understand about working with meters, cameras, and film is the meter is ultimate what's deciding everything. So, this lens has no control over the exposure other than the settings I give it. So if I am moving from meter to meter, if I have this meter, and I go switch to my phone, these may not be identical. And it's a weird thing, but if you go get three or four different meters, and you calibrate them together, they're not necessarily going to be the same. So what's really important is you just get comfortable with a meter, and how it works, and then to continue to use that same meter over and over again, and you'll get much more consistent results from behind the camera. Now one of the things you can do, like I said, is there's several apps that are available for your phone. And what I want to do real quick was show you one of the apps. This is from Lumu is the name of the company, And what they have his this cool little app for your phone and it does a bunch of different things. They built this little diode, and unfortunately this is only currently available for the iPhone, but this plugs into your lightning port and one side has color information, and the other side, as you can see, is that dome for the incident metering. So when I plug this in ... like right now, it's set up for photo spot metering, so it's basically gonna use my camera inside, and you can see, as I touch the screen, my exposure's gonna change as it figures out my settings. So I'm able to actually use this as a spot meter to determine, ultimately, what to dial in. If I plus this into my phone, you can now see I have a lot more options. I've got an illuminance option, a photo ambient, spot metering still, photo flash, color temperature. I'm gonna do the color temperature one first. When I click that, this diode actually reads the relative color temperature in the room. So right now, it's set for 5590 kelvin, If I move a little bit over here, it's 5500 kelvin. And the magenta shift at the bottom is currently calibrated for light rooms, so it would help me offset any color temperature cast in light room if I was coming in to actually make the calibration. So it's a great way from a color temperature standpoint. So when you're working with film, your color temperature's baked into the film. If you're black and white, no problem. But if you're doing color, you really have to pay attention to the color of your lights, because depending on the film you're shooting, that could make a huge difference. So this can help you determine what kind of filter you would need to use. So if I come and click on filters, you can see for ... If I measure my light I need a .. down there it tells me I need a quarter cut CTO. So to offset the blueness in the light, to get back to natural, I would want to put a quarter cut CTO on my lights, or I would need to offset that with a filter in front of the camera. Now one of the other things this tool does, if I flip it around so the dome is up, I come back, I can actually use this as an ambient light meter. So I can come here and actually read and see if I can get it to change. So right there, at f2 at ISO 100, my exposure under my camera would be 4 minutes. So that gives me the base piece to start with there. So it's a great way to actually, if you've got an iPhone, to actually have a little bit more robustness. And the great part is, unlike if I got a new iPhone, and I worry about whether the camera's calibrated properly, I can just go on ahead and use this, and change this with the iPhones. So that's a little bit on metering, but you're definitely gonna have to have a meter if you're gonna get started.

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Ratings and Reviews


Daniel is an excellent teacher. His approach of teaching common mistakes and then explaining the proper way to do something is very helpful. The entire film series is excellent. I can't say I have a favorite over any of the others classes in the series. Each class covers great information. I learned photography back when digital didn't exist. Even after shooting film for so many years, I still learned some great tidbits from these classes. I highly recommend this series for anyone considering learning film or getting back into film.


Very detailed Large format Course. Learnt a lot. Great job Daniel. Would love see in the future an in depth course building on this but for studio portraits and camera movements for portraits in different situations explaining why. Happy i purchased this.

Art Majerus

Shooting medium format since the 70’s on Whidbey Isand. Recently bought a 4x5. This class helped me clarify all the little things needed to get going. Well presented. Thanks

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